This book seeks to analyse the kaleidoscopic images through which Krsna-Jaganmatha has been represented by European traverllers and scholars.
Recalling the ancient relationship of the Syrian Christians to Hindu Culture, Part i brings to centre stage commonly ignored parallelisms between Jagannatha and Thomas the Apostle. Such analogies are clearly suggested in the Syrian Christian traditions collected by Europeans from the late Middle Ages. Athanasius kircher (1601/2-1680) made abundant use of these sources, albeit grossly distoreted, for his alleged reconstruction of the diffusion of Christianity in Asia.
Since the 18th century, the cult of Jagannatha was accormmodated by European scholars to their conceptions of history. The foundation myth of the cult was interpreted in this perspective. In the process, as shown in Part II, meaning has been drastically deflected.
A very different picutre emerges when several versions of the Jagannatha myth, unhampered by the inherited models of interpretation, are brought together and compared. Part III attempts to capture the coherent unity arissing from the narratives. The book provider access to this inner unity and sheds new light on the problems engendered by persistent efforts to ensure the viability of historical reconstruction.
About the Author:
JOSE CARLOS GOMES DA SILVA is professor of Anthropology (retired) at ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon University Institute. He has published L'identite volee: essais d'Anathropologie sociale (1989) [ Stolen Identity: Essays in Social Anthropology], O Discurso contra si proprio (2003) [The Discourse against Itself], and The Cult of Jagannatha: Myths and Rituals (MLBD,2010), along with other books and articles.